Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Animal Control Belize...Who decided it was cruel?

I love Belize. I want all my readers to share in the beauty of this Caribbean gem and fall in love with Belize as well. But if I only ever show the rose colored version of Belize, it is not fair to you. For those of you looking for a pretty, polished, pampered Belize, I'll spend many blogs showing you your manicured options. Today...Etiquette Forgetiquette...We will look at one of the ugly parts of Belize.

On one of the forums, a particularly nasty forum in my opinion, there has been a thread about how the Government of Belize handles stray dogs. There is a practice of putting out poisoned food to eliminate unwanted animals in the streets. Our Stateside Sensibilities are inherently offended by such a practice. The tree hugging dog lover expats are up in arms about this. They call it inhumane and cruel. Who are we to judge? This has been going on here for years, and a few immigrants with high horses can not stop it.

Here's my take on the practice of poisoning unwanted stray dogs in the streets...First and foremost, if you have a dog, do not allow it to eat stuff left in the street. That alone will prevent your dog from becoming a victim of the Big Bad Belizean Government.

As for the right or wrong aspect of this practice...well... I can't say that I'm opposed to it. Belezians keep pets, but not in the way that Americans keep pets. A cat is generally kept to keep down the critters and a dog is for protection. I'm not saying that NO ONE of Belizean decent loves their pets. I'm sure many are caring and cuddling their animals right now! I'm just saying that more pets have a purpose here than in the States. As such, if the animal no longer serves the purpose it was intended to serve...well...there is just not much reason to keep it around.

Specifically, when we moved into this house, there was a dog who had been abandoned by the previous tenant. The house had been vacant for 4 months, so this little guy was pretty well fending for himself during that time. He is ragged, and rough, scared and still tough. Poor Mangy Dog. In the States, animal control would have been out and captured him and taken him to a shelter where (most likely) he would have been euthanized eventually. Here in Belize, no one even took a second look at him. He wandered starving and unhealthy through the streets for months! Would it have been inhumane to put a little pill into a piece of meat and feed Mangy Dog his last meal? Not in my opinion...it may have been a mercy. It didn't work out that way for Mangy Dog...

A couple from the states (us) rented the house he used to live in and started setting out their cat food for ol' Mangy Dog. When it became clear that Mangy Dog would survive, we went and bought him some dog food. He now lives on the landing of out stairs and doesn't run when we walk by him. Sean would like to capture Mangy Dog and get him to a vet...but baby steps. Mangy Dog is starting to trust us, and it will be a few weeks before I trust HIM enough to even pet him. (Dogs in Belize are notorious! DO NOT PET THE PUPS!) Once we fatten him up a little then maybe we'll catch him for a doctor visit.

Within the week, Mangy Dog's fur started growing back. He has an awful limp, probably caused by his toe nails growing into the pads of his little feet. His eyes are clearer. He seems to be recovering. But not all Mangy Dogs get this type of break. A few more weeks and he'd have been dead. WHY is it cruel to end his suffering? Why shouldn't the government eliminate dangerous and diseased animals? I'm posting a pic or two of Mangy Dog and I'll keep you posted as to his recovery.
This is mangy dog the day I started feeding him...The white on his back is from the paint on our stairway.

Ol' Mangy Dog's eyes are clearing with regular meals...Poor Poor Mangy Dog!


  1. Dusti thinks mangy dog is cute..keep feeding him he will b fine..he's happy uns showed up there

    1. Yeah! Jodi...your comment posted! That darn thing is on the landing now. He's getting so used to me that he made me step over him with the bike in my hands! Uh...excuse me?!?

  2. The most common agent used in Belize is strychnine, which is far from a humane death. See below:

    The onset of strychnine poisoning is fast. After oral exposure, clinical signs may appear within 30–60 min. Presence of food in the stomach can delay onset. Early signs, which may often be overlooked, consist of apprehension, nervousness, tenseness, and stiffness. Vomiting usually does not occur. Severe tetanic seizures may appear spontaneously or may be initiated by stimuli such as touch, sound, or a sudden bright light. An extreme and overpowering extensor rigidity causes the animal to assume a “sawhorse” stance. Hyperthermia (104–106°F [40–41°C]) due to stiffness and seizures is often present in dogs. The tetanic convulsions may last from a few seconds to ~1 min. Respiration may stop momentarily. Intermittent periods of relaxation are seen during convulsions but become less frequent as the clinical course progresses. The mucous membranes become cyanotic, and the pupils dilated. Frequency of the seizures increases, and death eventually occurs from exhaustion or asphyxiation during seizures. If untreated, the entire syndrome may last only 1–2 hr. There are no characteristic necropsy lesions. Sometimes, due to prolonged convulsions before death, agonal hemorrhages of heart and lungs and cyanotic congestion from anoxia may be seen.

    There is also the issue that this reinforces the attitude that animals are disposable, rather than teaching responsible ownership, which includes spaying/neutering your animals, vaccinating and deworming them (hence eliminating public health worries) and not letting them roam and breed.

    The limp is most likely a chronic injury from being hit by a car; see many of these in Belize.

    ---a vet

    1. Margaret! Thank you very much for your intelligent comment! I wish I could add it to the body of this blog post so that my readers do not overlook your well spoken reply. I blog primarily from ONE point of view...my own. I am often times not on the mark, I know. I think in this case, I may have missed the target altogether...sigh. Again...thank you for your intelligent comments! ...and you said that you are a vet...Are you in Belize? I have a stray kitten here cuddling me ight now, and I would like to bring him to someone for shots, but have not found a vet in Dangriga as of yet. If you are in Belize, could you email me at melaniekaycampbell@gmail.com ? Thanks in advance!

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